A new series: How To Use Picasa

I’ve done several posts on how to improve your photography without spending a bunch of money (more are coming, I promise!), and to go along with that, I’m going to do a series of posts on editing your pictures without spending a bunch of money. ;)

You can, of course, buy some picture-editing software like Lightroom or Photoshop, but those fabulous programs come with a fabulous price tag. Also, Photoshop is, shall we say, not the easiest program in the world to use.

At least, it seems not-easy to me!

So, we’re going to talk about all the things you can do do your pictures with Picasa, a free (woo!) picture-editing program from Google. Picasa is no Photoshop, but you can do an impressive number of things with it, and they’re all super easy. There are other free photo editing programs out there, like Picnik and gimp, but since I have the most experience with Picasa, that’s what I’m going to blog about. ;)

Why should you bother with picture editing? Well, even if you’re pretty careful when you shoot, some of your pictures are bound to need a little help. Plus, sometimes just a little bit of tweaking can take a photo from boring to fabulous. I use Picasa for about 99.99% of the picture editing I need to do for the photos I use on this blog, so if you like what you usually see here, you should follow this series!

With Picasa, you can make pictures black and white….

adjust lighting….

or add a sepia tone.

You can crop them…

make collages (you can make much more creative collages than this…I just usually keep it simple with two photos!),

add text,

and much, much more.

To get your copy of Picasa, simply visit Picasa’s website and download the software. It’s very simple to set up and install…just follow the instructions. When you install Picasa, it should scan your computer for existing images and organize them into folders for you automatically.

I use Picasa whenever I unload pictures onto my computer. To do that, just plug your camera in to the computer or put your memory card into your computer’s card reader. A window should pop up asking what you’d like to do with your pictures, and all you have to do is click on “Use Picasa to import pictures.” That will take you to the import screen, and you should be able to just follow the instructions from there. Alternatively, you can open up Picasa and click on the Import button.

Though I use Picasa for a lot of my editing, I also find it to be a great tool for organizing and sorting through my pictures…much better than Photoshop, actually. Photoshop is a powerful editing tool, but it is a pain in the patootie for organizing and sorting.

So, if you haven’t already, go download and install the Picasa software so that you’re all ready to try out my tips. I’m really excited about sharing this series with you, because making your photos look great can be fun, easy, and free!


  1. Jill S says

    Great post! I love to play around with pictures on Picasa. My mom took our engagement pictures (back in 2007). I edited them with Picasa and everyone really thought they were done by a professional. It saved us so much money. The best thing is that it is so easy to undo something if you don’t like it.

  2. Wendy says

    I am super-excited for the tips. I currently use Picasa, but struggling to make it do, well, anything other than upload my pictures. I will go home )at work now) and make sure I have the most current version.

  3. says

    I was an early adopter of Picasa and love the program. If you write captions and save them to the photos, and then upload the photos to Flickr, the captions will also be uploaded…. huge time saver. Unless, of course, you use Picasaweb’s free storage online (which is limited).

  4. Kristin says

    Oh I am very excited about this series! I completely agree about Photoshop, I am looking around for editing software and decided to take a class on it….the instructor was great but it made me realize that photoshop is so advanced and it would take me forever to edit photos. I have never used Picasa just limited Picnik use so I am excited to read your series.

  5. says

    I already use Picasa (thanks to you, I think!) and LOVE it because we just don’t have the money to spend even $100 on Photoshop Elements. Picasa is very easy to use, perfect for my photo needs (I’m no professional!) and I have to say my photos have greatly improved since I started using it!
    I can’t wait for more on this series!

  6. melissa says

    thanks for this post. i really didn’t want to pay for photoshop but wanted something to change pictures. just downloaded it and going to start playing around =)

  7. Ashley says

    Oh this is exciting! I have recently been taking pictures of my veggie and flower gardens and can only imagine the possibilities now! And free! Woohoo!!! By the way, what is that delicious chocolate treat pictured? I stared at it for at least 30 seconds! :)

      • Erika says

        Ooh I can’t wait! I’m hoping that greenish tinge I see in the white part is mint, because that’s my favorite :) Even if I’m just seeing things, and there is no mint, it still looks delish!

        • Bonnie says

          So funny– I was so excited to see the new series on Picasa, but possibly more excited to see the deliciousness that’s pictured, haha. Can’t wait for tomorrow’s post!

  8. JessicaW says

    I too absolutely LOVE Picassa!!! So easy to use and the collage feature is awsome! We have always done “pictures as gifts” for various family and friends and the features available with this free software have made our gifts far more excting than the standard 4×6 or 5×7.

  9. Whitney says

    The pregnant mom looks like she is glowing! Will this baby be boy #4 or will she have three older brothers? I would love to see pictures of this baby when the time comes!

  10. tanya says

    I too am exicted about this series. I love playing around with pictures. I just found out about picassa. I was wondering more about and how to get it so i can’t wait to get more information. do you know how to do the color and black and white in one photo? if so, how and is this possible with this software. Love your blog, btw. I get it by email after seeing you on tv.

  11. Shaylin says

    So I downloaded Picasa to my laptop and it searched and uploaded all the photos I have stored on it. But we actually store most of our photos on an external hard drive connected to our home computer. Can I use the same login/user and upload those as well? And is this kind of like an online storage system? That I can access from any computer once they are loaded?

    I already played around with some photos and I love it! I am by no means a good photographer, but I had a few pictures that I thought were pretty good and then I got to playing around with them and made them even better using Picasa! Love it! And I don’t have the patience to learn photoshop or anything else, so this is perfect for me. Thanks for sharing and I can’t wait to learn more!

  12. Becky says

    I use Picasa also, but have recently discovered Picnik and like it better. There is a free version that has great features and a premium version which cost $24 per year. I am using the free version – sometimes I use both Picasa and Picnik to edit.

    I know you said you haven’t taken any classes and have learned your skills from books and practice. I broke down and decided to take a class at the community college. It is not expensive and I have learned a lot and enjoyed the interaction with the teacher and other students. It actually saved me money as I was about to buy a new lens but after discussing it with the teacher decided I didn’t need it.

    I enjoy your blog.

  13. says

    May I ask about something may seem very obvious to people more experienced than I am? I thought picasa was basically just another online photo storage type place, like flickr (similar to the way hotmail and yahoo are just both different free email providers). But somebody above mentioned editing in picasa and then uploading them to flickr. Why? I’m sure my sister uses picasa but I don’t think she does any more than I do with flickr (although even that I have only started to try recently – three and a half years after getting my first digital camera I finally wanted to be able to delete stuff off it but I’m so paranoid about hard drive failure I keep waiting until I’ve put everything online as well – what will I ever be like if I get a good camera and learn how to take photos properly!), i.e. uploads pictures and emails me a link which I can click on to see a slideshow of them. So, what’s the difference between picasa and flickr? Obviously I now know that you can use picasa for editing but I don’t really understand why you would use flickr as well.

  14. Mercedes says

    I have a question about picasa….once you change a photo with the program and then save it can you then open the file on another computer that doesn’t have the picasa program on it? Thanks for all your ideas, i love your sites!

  15. Lora says

    I recently started using Picasa and I do not understand how to upload more then one picture at a time to my blog. Am I doing something wrong?? I do one picture go back to get another one and it opens a whole new post. Your help or any suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated!!!! Thank You!!!

  16. Richard says

    I have a question that is driving me crazy. I have a picture of a boy eating corn on the cob amoung my pictures when I open Picasa. It does not apear anywhere on my computer, folders, pictures, my documents. I started using Picasa a couple of months ago for a photography class I am taking. When looking for pictures to use, this picture of a little boy and a short movie of fish in an aquarium are in a folder, but nowhere else. Could I have imported them from somewhere and not know it.

  17. lisa sheasby says

    I use picasso to upload all my photo’s onto my PC…but how do I view them on another computer??? Do i have an account ?? If so how do I obtain the details?
    Can anyone help??

  18. Mitzi says

    Hi, I have a couple of questions with a problem using Picasa. Some how , recently most of my folders were transferred to My Pictures . How do I get them back into picasa? Next, when I imported recent pics from my memory card, it did not capture the last 40 photos . Thinking I had too many pics in Picasa, I started deleting a lot of them. Retrying then, Picasa still did not pick up those last few photos. I can find them in My Pictures, but I want them in Picasa! Thank you for any suggestions.

    • Kristen says

      Let’s see…to fix this, go to File in the upper lefthand corner, and from the dropdown menu, choose “Add folder to Picasa” or “Add file to Picasa”. This will let you import pictures from My Pictures into Picasa.

      Let me know if that fixes the problem for you!

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